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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Bring on your questions

Some of you have wanted to ask questions of me, and since I'm here to work for you, this is your chance.

Ask your questions and I'll check back every couple of hours and post answers to the best of my ability.

We'll make it a regular feature on this blog. Let's agree that every Tuesday, you guys post questions and I'll do my best to get you the answers.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Dolphins ready to bid Wright goodbye

The news that the Dolphins are trying to trade Manny Wright is surprising on two fronts:

First, do they really believe anyone will bite?

Secondly, it strongly suggests the team is ready to cut its losses with Wright and put the saga into the history books.

The simple truth is Wright isn't good enough to make this team now and his inactivity the last three weeks has made things worse, not better, for this troubled young man.

I applaud the Dolphins for moving toward dumping Wright. On an NFL ship, anyone who isn't rowing is weighing you down.

But, as always, I'm certain there are some wannabe general managers out there who believe Miami should keep Wright. Would love to read your take either way.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Jason Allen's unfortunate twist

The Dolphins drafted Jason Allen in the first round because they loved his ability to play SAFETY.

They believed him capable of roaming and covering and hitting and being something of an insurance policy against big plays back there.

Everyone in the Dolphins organization wants Allen to live up to those expectations and I think eventually he will. But right now, the guy's attempt at reaching that potential is being sidetracked.

Because the Dolphins are so short at cornerback, Allen has spent his second week of practice at the cornerback spot. He hasn't gotten any significant snaps at safety that I've seen.

And I watch every practice.

I understand the need at CB, but the question has to be asked: Is Miami's short-term need at CB greater than the long-term goal of getting him in the starting lineup as the free safety?

Personally, I think the situation stinks but it speaks to Miami's veiled concerns that Travis Daniels may not be ready for the start of the season.

What do you think?

Monday, August 14, 2006

The entire Wilkinson press conference

Dan Wilkinson signed a three-year contract with Miami today. He spoke to the media a couple of hours ago. This is what he said:

Do you still go by "Big Daddy" and when did you get that name?

"I can’t shake that name. I’ve been carrying that since seventh grade.
Most people just call me Dan, Dan or Daniel, that’s fine with me."

Might have to fight Shaq for the nickname?

"Oh no, he can have it. It’s all his."

What brought you down here?

"I’ve been looking at several different teams, but the Dolphins fit the
best. I mean, this is a team that’s right there to make that next big
step. I definitely want to be a part of that. Playing 12 years in the
NFL, this is my 13th going into, I’ve been to the playoffs one time.
This is a grand opportunity. This is a team that’s right there with the
right nucleus, right players and the right coaching staff to take it to
the next championship level. And what better way to finish my career?"

Were you close to retirement?

"Well, I wouldn’t say pretty close to retirement, but Detroit just
didn’t fit. They brought in a coaching staff and just a change of
philosophy, it was just time for me to leave there."

Did you think after Detroit of calling it a career?

"No, right after Detroit let me go I received many phone calls from
teams that we interested. I wasn’t in no big rush. It gave me an
opportunity, really, to kind of sit back and spend some time with my
family and just kind of heal my body, which always is helpful. When I
was released by the Redskins, having that extra time actually really
went well for me, physically and mentally. Now, I’m refreshed, I’m
back, I’m excited and what better position to be in."

How long will it take you to get out there?

"About two or three days. Just getting acclimated. I ran pretty good
today, which was a good conditioning test and a couple of days of
football drills and moving around, I’ll be ready. I’ve been playing
long enough, it doesn’t take much."

What was the final hurdle that was clear that made you decide now is
the time to sign?

"I still had time, a couple of weeks of preseason games and couple of
weeks of training camp. Now’s the time to really get in and get ready
for Pittsburgh, and that’s my main focus, come in to be able to
contribute and help the team get to that next level. And now is the
perfect time for that."

Are you looking at this as a long-term commitment instead of just a
one-year deal?

"I’ve been very fortunate and very blessed throughout my career not to
have any significant injuries and to remain strong throughout my
career, so I don’t see why this is any different. I’ve been very
fortunate to stay healthy throughout my career and I look for that to

Can you talk about where you are at this point in your career?

"I can definitely still come in here and dominate the line of
scrimmage, no question. That’s all been my strength and my game, and
that will continue. I’m healthy and I’m strong and when I get on the
field that will carry over."

What other teams showed interest?

"Five, six other teams. I don’t want to go through the whole list just

OK, how about a couple of them?

"Green Bay, Oakland, Philly, Baltimore, a couple others, Green Bay,
couple teams."

How much will it help having all those veterans on the d-line where you
can rotate?

"Oh, it’s huge, playing with a group of veterans like this. It makes it
so much easier. And they’ve got a couple of young pups that need to get
tutored and kind of helped along. Me playing with a veteran line,
that’s great for me because I know where everybody’s going to be and
they’re going to know where I’m going to be, and I’ll be in a position
to produce and help the team."

Was being able to skip the first two weeks of training camp one of the
reasons you didn’t sign before?

"No, it’s really just kind of taking back and looking at all my options
and looking at the best situation for me. I came down here on a visit a
couple of months ago and it went extremely well. This just continued to
be when I looked at all my options, this continued to be the best fit
and the best opportunity."

What are your impressions of Nick Saban?

"I met and talked with Coach Saban on many occasions, and I like him a
lot. He’s a straightforward, no-nonsense guy. His wealth of knowledge
as a football coach and on the defensive side of the ball is just
something that’s really exciting and I’m looking forward to playing
under it."

What was it like meeting your new teammates?

"You know what, moving from different teams, it kind of refreshes you
again. You get stuck in the same system over a while, you kind of get
complacent and you kind of get in the same old rut. But this definitely
feels refreshing. This feels like I’m 22 again, like again, fortunately
I’ve been very healthy throughout my career and I’m looking forward to
getting going."

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Thoughts on Manny Wright

You asked for it so here are my thoughts on Manny Wright:

I feel compassion for him.

I think the Dolphins are doing the right thing in not releasing him because you don't just let a player go free at his whim.

I think this thing is a HUGE problem for the chemistry of the team because if he comes back, the same guys who tormented him in the past will continue to do so now -- and now they have less respect for him than before.

I think I've lived through this before with Dimitrius Underwood.

I think we have found Nick Saban's first draft misstep and it's not really a big one given the fact Wright was a fifth round pick in the supplemental draft.

I think the Dolphins will do just fine without him, thank you.

But having to guess whether Wright (I'm not coming back) or Saban (you're coming back) will cave to the other's will, I think Saban wins.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Daunting question: To play or sit

Think of Nick Saban as one of those old fashioned scales that balances one side against the other to come up with the right measure.

The coach has to decide in the next two or three days whether or not to start Daunte Culpepper in the Dolphins first preseason game against Jacksonville Saturday. So he will have to measure the risk versus the reward to come up with the right answer.

How's he going to do that?

"Player safety is going to be the first thing," Saban said. "The goal and objective to this entire preseason, relative to the quarterbacks, is to get ready to play in the first [regular-season] game."

But that is not the only thing. Saban is not a mother hen with his players and realizes, "Hey it's going to happen sometime," regarding when exactly to let Culpepper finally test his surgically repaired knee in game action.

Also figuring into Saban's thinking is that Culpepper wants to play and every medical exam he has undergone suggests he can.

"He's further ahead in his physical rehabilitation and development than what we anticipated," Saban said. "From the day he came here, he's always been ahead, and he's just continued to build on that. We're very pleased with the progress that he's made."

Great. So does that mean Culpepper will play?

It says here it should mean Culpepper doesn't play. I understand the guy has to test the knee sometime and I understand the argument that once he takes that first big hit, his confidence in the reconstruction of the joint will soar.

So what?

Let him wait another week for that gleeful moment. The knee may be stronger by then, if even only by thismuch.

Let him wait another week. The offensive line in front of him may be better solidified by then, even if only by thismuch.

Let him wait another week. Daunte's confidence won't exactly go in the dumper if he's held out of the first preseason game.

Let him wait another week. Because it's the preseason for goodness sakes and player safety trumps macho bravado.

The idea here should be to get Culpepper online for the Sept. 7 REGULAR-SEASON opener. This is not that game. He can get equally prepared playing two or three preseason games. Playing seven plays against the Jags isn't going to change the direction of his season in a positive sense.

But it could derail it with one misplaced hit.

I've had this argument with my co-host on the Dolphins Insider, which airs weeknights on 1360 AM and online at (this is called a plug in the business). Anyway he disagrees and says Culpepper needs to get out there.

What do you say?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Tough time for Will Poole

Will Poole has a sprained knee and won't be practicing at least until next week, in what is a setback from his return from reconstructive surgery.

I reported in today's editions of The Herald that Poole was limping badly at the end of practice Thursday. Today he didn't practice, but rather watched from a golf cart on the sidelines as he wore a considerable knee brace.

The injury is currently being diagnosed as a sprain but Poole is going to be extremely cautious because it is the same knee that caused him to miss all of last year.

He will see a doctor for a second opinion next week but will not practice until then.

Andre' Goodman, meanwhile, continues to work as a first-team cornerback in the absence of both Poole and starter Travis Daniels.

Goodman himself is trying to erase the memory of two major injuries -- a right knee and twice separated left shoulder -- that has hindered his career.

"It doesn't affect me whether they put me with the first-team or the third team, I go out and compete every day the same way," Goodman said.

Goodman is trying to learn new techniques that he says, "will definitely make me better."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Some thoughts about FOOTBALL

We are taking a break from the politics today because I write sports and you read sports and somehow this blog got hijacked by talk of the United Nations and its charter yesterday.

Here are my thoughts:

*Chris Chambers does indeed seem on the verge of his best season ever and I think Marty Booker is truly underappreciated by you guys. I think he's excellent and the 17 yards per catch from a season ago is proof.

*The offense line, to me, is still a problem and probably a first-round pick away from being settled. That Rex McKinney and Seth Hadnot change of indentity and positions seems forced to me. My prediction: Joe Toledo is the starting right guard before the season is over. I watched him lead a screen pass today and he was five yards ahead of the RB and the gap didn't quickly close. L.J. Shelton has not been exactly dominant in drills. There is a chance the coaching of Hudson Houck might eventually kick in, but to me, he's still the guy that Cleveland discarded.

*The third wide receiver battle concerns but it seems both Kelly Campbell and Derek Hagan have the potential to do good work -- despite Campbell's inglorious past and Hagan's lack of experience.

*The Dolphins will wish they had been stronger players in the Michael Bennett sweepstakes.

*I'm wishing the Dolphins were stronger players in the Jerry Porter trade possibility.

*In watching the first five days of camp, this team has the feel of a good football team. But not a great football team. I'm thinking 10-6 this year, folks.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

To dine or not to dine with the Prez

It could be argued that Nick Saban took a pass on having dinner with President George Bush Sunday evening with the idea that he'd much rather see the President in February.

At the White House after a Super Bowl victory.

It could also be argued that if the leader of the free world, the most powerful man on Earth and the democratically elected leader of your country invites you to dinner, by goodness, you move practice and go. You change the schedule and make an appearance. You simply show up.

Being a little politically naive, I want to believe the first one. Being a little a little skeptical because of my reporter's background, I'm tempted to believe the latter.

So here is your chance. What do you, the voting public of the blogosphere, think Saban should have done? What would you do if the President invites you to dinner on, say, your wedding aniversary or your mother's birthday?

Remember this a sports blog, so don't come with any cheap partisan shots on W.